Digg has long been the big kahuna of sites where users submit and vote on tech news stories. Though tech content there has dropped dramatically (as we wrote about in this post) and Yahoo Buzz promises audiences that dwarf Digg's - it's still fantastic to get a tech story on the front page of Digg.Social news site
We get enough of our stories submitted that we thought friends of RWW might appreciate a chance to read our thoughts about what works best when you submit content from this, or any other site, for other people to read on Digg.
A front page appearance on Digg is good for an article's publisher, it's good for the submitters who want to share their favorite content with a large number of people and it's good for the readers who hopefully get to read high quality stuff.
Here at RWW we love the fact that we have a loyal and growing crew of readers who like to share their favorite stories from our site. Digg traffic is a big help in putting food on our tables so we can keep writing the things people like here. We've had more than 150 posts hit the front page of Digg in the last year and we really appreciate your support. This is what we at least have seen work best so far. If your experience has been different please let us know.
All that said, we've noticed some things that don't work so well on Digg. Any URL that gets submitted has only one chance to try and make it to the front page within the next 24 hours. Whether you're submitting stories from here or from your other favorite sites, here are some tips that will help your submissions be more successful.
- Think of Your Submission Like a Mini-Article
- Snark is Almost Always Better Than Wow
- Leave Personal References Out
- Consider Submitting to Unusual Categories
- Contribute in Other Ways to the Site Too
- Consider Voting for Stories on Other Sites, as Well
A good title and summary in your submission is a make-or-break matter. An indecipherable title or a summary that doesn't really summarize the article means very few people are gonig to click through or vote for a story.
Sometimes the title of the original blog post may be more suitable for the blog's regular readers than it is for Digg - you might want to consider coming up with a new title for your submission. There's room for some artistic license.
Remember - the goal of Digg is to write a submission that the largest number of Digg users will find honestly interesting enough to click on and vote for in order to share it with more readers. Put yourself in the mind of someone scanning over a tech and news stream - what kinds of titles would you feel are most appropriate and effective?
Or, as Digg says on the page you see when submitting articles (apparently many people didn't read this) - "Convince people that this is great content. Write a concise and accurate headline. Don't assume that people will understand just from the title... explain in your description." Simple enough!
"Wow" is actually good, but thankful appreciation for a high-quality article from a site you know and love; that's not going to fly in the big ocean of content that is Digg. If you can think of anyone to make fun of (present company excluded of course!) people like that.
Saying that a post is really good, though, is wasted characters. Everyone's assuming that you think it's good because you submitted it; spending precious space saying it's good in the summary just irritates readers and makes it seem that someone who doesn't know what they are doing thinks the link is good.
Some degree of professionalism goes a long way on Digg. Risk taking does as well, but one thing that doesn't work well in many cases is referencing the site or author you're submitting. It's in the URL field already.
We really appreciate how many of you like RWW - but the majority of Digg users still have no idea who we are. So referencing RWW, or one of our author's names, in your submission just comes across as presumptuous. You can put yourself in the place of a Digg reader who doesn't know this blog. That's the best way to submit stories from here.
If you're submitting stories from the blog of some crazy tech-geek-rockstar hero then that make sense to reference them. There are almost no tech blogs that have general name recognition on Digg, though. Even TechCrunch, the king of name recognition, gets blank stares sometimes on Digg. Ars Technica, though I dare you to name more than one author there, does have that kind of name recognition on Digg.
It's been four months since a story that contained the words ReadWriteWeb in the headline or description hit the front page of Digg, though. It didn't use to be that way, but that's the way it is now.
This is a tip we first heard on The Drill Down podcast, and it's a good one. The vast majority of our stories that get submitted are submitted in the Industry News category. The vast majority of all stories go there. This makes it much harder to get over the hump and hit the front page in that category.
Last week our post on How We Use Twitter For Journalism was reported in comments to have hit the front page with only 25 Diggs - and 17 hours after submission! That would be going exactly nowhere if it was in Industry News, but the submitter added it to the Lifestyle >> Educational category. There was a much lower bar there. The idea is that Digg wants to front page to serve a diversity of interests, so submitters should recognize the diversity of interests that can be served with their submission.
Ironically, the person who added this story to digg (thank you) did so under Industry News!
Not all votes are equal on Digg. People who regularly submit articles that do well get their votes counted more heavily. People who vote early on stories that end up being validated by the rest of the community carry more weight as well. Digg stories around the site, leave comments. Every time you participate meaningfully, it's an opportunity to help your own future submissions do all the better.
This is why nepotism isn't rewarded on Digg. If a user Diggs a story that the rest of the group hates, then that user's vote will suffer in the future. There's a strong disincentive. algorithmically, to try to game the system. Almost as strong as their is an incentive otherwise.
Here at RWW, we've been lucky enough to be accepted into the closed-garden of Yahoo! Buzz, so you can vote for any of our stories there, too. StumbleUpon is a good place to share things with like minded people as well. Mixx is an up and comer. SlashDot is still a great place to share stories. The list runs very, very long in fact.
Spread your love around and check out different social news sites. You might find that you like some of them better than others, or that your personal taste in stories might go over better in one place or another.
In all of these sites, the user experience for the submitter goes like this: you find something you like, you want to share it with as many people as you can (otherwise you'd just email a link to a handful of people), so you submit the article. If a small but large enough group of people sees it and says that they like it too, then the article is promoted to a place on the site where a much larger number of people see it. Then you the submitter get "points" that will go towards your next submission, the source of your shared article gets showered with traffic and the readers of the social news site appreciate the high quality content that they find there. That's the idea any way.
We hope that these thoughts are useful and interesting. We thank you again for your support here, but we find social news sites of interest whether we're on them or not. They are a great way for us all to learn together.